If you have recently had unprotected sex and are experiencing a missed period, then probably the first concern is that you’re pregnant. However, there is a bit of calculation involved to help you determine when the pregnancy test is likely to be more accurate (you can test too early). It’s best to wait a week after your missed period.
How Do Pregnancy Tests Work?
After the egg is fertilized, it then travels into the uterus where it implants itself. At this stage of the pregnancy, small amounts of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG), a hormone found only in pregnant women, begin to appear in your blood and urine.
It is this hormone that pregnancy tests are designed to detect, although some women experience this during their period.
Blood vs. Urine Pregnancy Tests
Urine pregnancy tests are the most commonly used type of pregnancy test. Some urine tests can detect hCG as early as a week after a missed period. When the pregnancy is very early, many women like to use an at-home urine pregnancy test before scheduling one with their doctor. When used correctly, some tests boast up to 99% accuracy.
While blood pregnancy tests are used at a doctor’s office, they do offer insights that urine pregnancy tests cannot offer, such as whether or not it is an ectopic pregnancy (located outside the womb). They can also detect pregnancy earlier than a urine test (6-8 days after ovulation).
Confirming Your Pregnancy
At First Care Pregnancy Center, we offer no-cost pregnancy tests as well as a no-cost ultrasound if you’re already taken a verified positive pregnancy test. Ultrasound confirms the stage of your pregnancy as well as alerts you to any possible risks or complications (like ectopic pregnancy). Schedule one today and we will be glad to help offer support and answer any questions you have about this process!Learn More
After getting a positive pregnancy test, your mind may be racing with a variety of emotions like fear, anger, or excitement. Some women may determine their plan for the pregnancy right away, while others may need more time. Regardless, it’s important to be educated on all pregnancy options (abortion, adoption, parenting) when facing an unexpected pregnancy to make an informed decision. This post will examine a woman’s legal rights surrounding abortion, what abortion methods are legal in Minnesota, and what steps can be taken if facing such a heavy decision.
Your Legal Rights
At least 24 hours before you have an abortion, you are required to give voluntary and informed consent that includes the medical risks of an abortion, the gestational age of the baby at the time of the abortion, and the medical risks of carrying the baby to term. You also have the right to be made aware of social aspects surrounding a pregnancy decision. These aspects include medical benefits available for prenatal care, childbirth and neonatal care, the father’s liability in supporting the child, a list of agencies that offer alternatives to abortion, and information on fetal pain.
Not only should you be informed of your options and risks, you should also be allowed to ask questions. This 24-hour waiting period is in place so that women have the right to think through their decision with the facts presented to them.
What Methods of Abortion Are Legal
Generally, abortions can be divided into two categories: before 14 weeks gestation and after 14 weeks gestation. While the medical aspects of these individual methods will be briefly outlined below, each method can be discussed further by calling one of our offices and/or scheduling an appointment with one of our staff.
Before 14 Weeks:
The most common method of abortion is a non-surgical abortion. This may also be referred to as a medical abortion, chemical abortion, RU-486, or “the abortion pill.” This type of abortion is legal up to 70 days after the first day a woman’s last menstrual period. This method uses a two-step process to end a pregnancy. The first step is taking a drug that blocks progesterone, which is a hormone needed to sustain a pregnancy. The second step is taking another medication that causes uterine contractions to expel all uterine contents including the baby and placenta.
The other method used prior to 14 weeks is called a vacuum aspiration abortion. This method opens the cervix and uses suction to remove the baby and placenta from the woman’s uterus.
After 14 Weeks:
After 14 weeks, there are two methods used. One of these methods is termed dilation and evacuation (D&E). This method is similar to a vacuum aspiration abortion in that the cervix needs to be dilated. This can be done with sponges or rods. After the cervix is opened, medical instruments such as forceps and suction are used to remove the baby and placenta.
The other method of abortion used after 14 weeks is labor induction. This form of abortion uses medication to initiate early labor. This may include receiving a drug intravenously (in your blood stream), intravaginally, or directly into the amniotic sac. Both intravenous and intravaginal medications start uterine contractions which induce labor and eventually lead to the delivery of the baby. In a small percentage of these deliveries, the baby is born alive. If the medication that is injected directly into the amniotic sac is used, this medication stops baby’s heartbeat and then stimulates uterine contractions.
When Does Abortion Become Illegal
In Minnesota, abortions are legal until what’s known as the “age of viability” which is the point in development when a baby can survive outside the womb. Currently, viability is determined to be 23 weeks gestation. Abortions may still be permitted after the age of viability if it’s determined the mother’s physical health is at a significant risk.
No matter what options are being considered, each choice can have a lasting impact. If you are in the decision-making process and feel overwhelmed or lost, we want you to know you are not alone. Call or text any of our offices to talk through your options or schedule an appointment for a pregnancy test, ultrasound, or decision-making appointment.Learn More
Not knowing whether or not you’re pregnant can lead to extreme feelings of anxiety and uncertainty.
As you wait until it’s time to take a pregnancy test, there are a few physical symptoms of pregnancy to be on the lookout for that might provide you with insight.
1. A Missed Period
A missed period is often the first physical sign women notice in early pregnancy as pregnant women typically do not ovulate or have periods. Those who are attentive to their cycles and have regular monthly periods may want to pay particular attention to this sign as an indication of pregnancy.
Pregnancy-related nausea, also often referred to as “morning sickness,” occurs in early pregnancy due to an influx of hormones as the pregnancy develops. Thankfully, this pregnancy symptom usually disappears in the second or third trimester.
3. Spotting and Cramping
Many women experience light spotting early on in pregnancy as the embryo attaches to the uterine lining, also referred to as implantation bleeding. Additionally, women experience cramping similar to period cramps.
Pregnancy-related fatigue is to be expected as your body produces progesterone to support your growing pregnancy. If you’re planning on carrying your pregnancy, it’s important to give your body the rest it needs during this time.
5. Changes in Nipples
Pregnancy hormones can lead to a change in the appearance and texture of the nipples. This can be accompanied by discomfort and itching sensations.
6. Tender Breasts
While many women experience breast tenderness around their ovulation or periods, pregnancy can bring about a more acute tenderness and can also be accompanied by swelling. Not to worry — this is a typical symptom of early pregnancy.
7. New Food Cravings and Aversions
An influx of hormones can bring about a variety of strange cravings and aversions. If you are pregnant, you may find your body craving new things and developing aversions to new food or smells.
Schedule an Appointment
It’s important to note that while these symptoms can indicate pregnancy, they can also be related to other health conditions and hormonal changes. To confirm your pregnancy through lab-quality pregnancy testing, schedule your free appointment at First Care Pregnancy Center today!Learn More
COVID-19 has brought many unknowns and uncertainties into the world, especially for those who are just discovering they are pregnant.
Under normal circumstances, it’s not uncommon for pregnant women to have lots of different emotions and questions about how pregnancy will change their life. During this time of COVID, these uncertainties and questions may be even more pronounced.
To help address these concerns, we asked our medical staff to answer your most common questions about COVID during pregnancy. The following information should not replace talking with your doctor about any concerns.
How does COVID-19 affect a pregnancy?
Research is still in process surrounding the effects COVID-19 could have on pregnancy. Pregnant women may be higher risk for negative effects from the virus, but research has shown pregnant women are not at increased risk of mortality (death).
How can I protect myself from COVID-19 if I’m pregnant?
You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoid touching your face, limiting direct contact with others outside of your household (especially those who are sick), and wearing a face covering. It’s also important to stay hydrated, eat balanced meals, keep your prenatal appointments, and get plenty of rest.
Can COVID affect the health of my baby after birth?
It isn’t yet known whether or not COVID impacts the health of infants after birth. In regards to breastfeeding, the limited research conducted shows no evidence of the virus being transmitted through breast milk.
What should I do if I’m undecided about my plan for pregnancy?
Once you have verified your pregnancy and confirmed how far along you are, take time to learn about all of your options. At First Care we provide free options counseling with Licensed Social Workers or Client Advocates who can answer your questions about each pregnancy option. Our professional staff will help you weigh the pros and cons of each decision and connect you with resources and referrals to support you.
Schedule an Appointment Today
All of our services are free and confidential. Call the location nearest you to schedule a lab-quality pregnancy test, limited ultrasound, or appointment to meet with a social worker to discuss your pregnancy options.Learn More
Finding out you are pregnant may come as a surprise. You have future dreams. This isn’t what you wanted, at least not now.
Maybe you’re thinking…
How am I going to finish college?
What will my parents say?
Will my boyfriend leave me?
Will my career be impacted?
Learn From Others.
We understand. At First Care, we have met with thousands of women who have thought their future dreams were shattered too. But, hold on. Take a breath. Pause. Give yourself time to process.
Find hope in their stories and know that on the other side of this, you will achieve and accomplish dreams, maybe even some new ones you don’t yet have!
You will meet with someone who has experience in finding resources to help you. We will talk with you about your dreams and how your decision for your pregnancy may impact those dreams.
Once you have a clear path forward, we can help connect you with the services or resources to make your unexpected pregnancy and future plans work!
See, you may think you’re dreams have been lost, but maybe they were never fully clear. The road is never as easy as it looks, but with First Care, we are there to walk alongside you, encourage you, and cheer you on to follow new dreams.
Schedule an appointment today
Call or text today to talk to someone who will listen and offer hope.Learn More
Congratulations! You made it to the third trimester! Common feelings include nervousness and also excitement about your upcoming birth and parenthood. Rest assured, these are all normal feelings.
The third trimester will take you from week 28 through week 40 of your pregnancy. During the third trimester, you may notice some changes due to your growing baby and your body preparing for birth.
Here are few common changes you may notice during this final trimester:
- Abdominal aches: These aches could be caused by round ligaments stretching to accommodate your growing baby bump and preparing your body for birth..
- Fatigue: As baby grows to full-term, the demands baby puts on your body increase. Be sure to get lots of rest.
- Heartburn: As your uterus pushes your stomach upwards, you may notice an increase in heartburn. Talk to your doctor if it is bothersome or severe.
- Contractions: Braxton Hicks contractions may start as your body prepares for the birth of your baby. These contractions are irregular and usually mild. True contractions will be progressive, increasing in frequency and intensity. Be sure to call your doctor if you can time the contractions and they become painful.
- Stretch marks: Stretch marks typically appear due to genetics. Moisturizing your belly may help minimize their appearance.
- Generalized discomfort: As the baby continues to grow, some women will experience backaches, shortness of breath, urinating frequently or other discomforts.
- Breast changes: Some women notice their breasts feel very full and begin leaking towards the end of their pregnancy. This substance is called colostrum, and it’s common to notice some leaking even before the baby is born. Colostrum is very nutrient-dense and will be a wonderful source of nutrition when your little one arrives.
Your baby is also going through many changes during the final trimester to help prepare for birth and life outside the womb.
Here are a few notable milestones:
- Baby weighs between 2-4 pounds
- Rapid brain development that enables baby to regulate body temperature and have rhythmic breathing movements
- Lanugo (fine hair all over baby’s body) starts to disappear, and the hair on baby’s head starts to thicken
- Your baby gains more fat stores, and bones are fully developed (although still soft)
- Baby’s eyes are able to be wide open, and pupils are responsive to light
- Fingernails have grown to reach the tip of the fingers
- Lungs continue to develop and prepare for independent breathing
- Multiple separate bone plates in her skull that are able to slide and move to allow the baby to pass through the birth canal
- Baby is rapidly gaining weight! Expect your baby to gain about ¼ to ½ pound per week in the last few weeks of pregnancy.
- Baby drops lower in mom’s belly and is typically positioned head-down to get ready for birth!
Even though there can be many discomforts and physical demands during a pregnancy, we hope you have enjoyed bonding with your little one even before he or she is born! Every woman’s experience of pregnancy is different, so if you have any concern if something you are experiencing is “normal,” we always encourage you to reach out to your prenatal provider.
Be sure to join us for a birthing class as you prepare for delivery!
We hope this blog series has given you a glimpse of some of the changes you and your baby may encounter from conception to birth!Learn More
Have you missed your period by a couple days and wondering if are pregnant? Answer the questions below and note how many you answer “yes” to.
- Have you missed a period?
- Are you more tired than usual?
- Have you lost weight?
- Do you have to pee more often?
- Do your breasts feel swollen, sore or tender?
- Have you gained weight?
- Do you feel like throwing up?
- Are you experiencing headaches?
- Are you having mood swings?
- Do you feel dizzy?
- Have you noticed a change in your appetite?
If you answered yes to at least four of these questions, there is a chance you could be pregnant.
Even if you have taken a positive home test, we can confirm your pregnancy and provide information on your options. Our staff are trained to help you navigate your potential pregnancy and connect you to resources you may be in need of.
Schedule an Appointment
Your next step? Contact us by text or phone at 612-712-3974. Or schedule a confirmation pregnancy test online.Learn More
Becoming pregnant while pursuing a college education can seem like a huge roadblock but it doesn’t have to be. With some tips for managing pregnancy as a college student you can be successful. If you’re a student in the Twin Cities at the University of Minnesota, Hamline, St. Thomas, Augsburg, Macalester, or St. Catherine University, you can find support and help through our centers.
At First Care, we will help connect you with resources in the community in addition to helping you identify available resources at your school.
Here are some of our tips to help manage pregnancy as a college student:
Gain a shift in perspective.
As we all grow and mature in life, it is important to realize that hard, difficult, challenging and unexpected things will ALWAYS be a part of life. They are unavoidable and that is not meant to be discouraging. Rather, it is intended to help you see the strength and capability you have within yourself to press on in the midst of unexpected challenges.
Who is in your corner?
I like the metaphor of a boxer who may have thousands of cheering fans but only a select few people in her corner, walking alongside her each step of the way. Take a moment to think about the people in your corner; who is there to support you through this pregnancy? Family, friends, partner? If you don’t have enough support, our Client Care staff can help you widen your support base.
Another key aspect in managing your pregnancy is recognizing any material or financial support you might be needing. This could be baby/maternity supplies, getting connected to programs like WIC, education classes to help prepare you or parenting groups for support.
- The U of M has a Student Parent Help Center that helps students who are pregnant and/or parenting with a variety of resources and support such as: child care resources, family housing, lactation resources, Parents As Students Support Group, Family friendly activity and events list, Teen Parent Outreach Program, and scholarships.
- The University of St. Thomas provides numerous resources to assist pregnant and parenting students.
- The Jeremiah Program provides services for pregnant women who want to pursue or continue their education and/or workforce prep.
We can help you gain access to all of these resources and more.
Believe In Yourself
Recognize you can do both – carry a pregnancy to term and be a student. It may look different than expected but, becoming pregnant does not mean you cannot continue your education. A lot of colleges have resources for pregnant students and want to help you through this as well. We encourage you to talk with your professors and advisers to make a plan for what this can look like.
Often with holistic support, women who experience an unplanned pregnancy realize they are stronger than they know and can move from surviving to thriving in their situations.
Remember you are not alone, not the first person to be experiencing this and you are so capable to get through this season of life.
Schedule an Appointment
Connect with one of our Client Advocates today to learn how we can specifically help you!Learn More
Have you ever watched one of those reality TV shows where someone didn’t know she was pregnant until she went to the hospital in labor? How did she miss the signs that she might be pregnant? It’s easy to wonder how the warning signs most women experience throughout pregnancy were missed!
You will be better prepared to identify symptoms early on in pregnancy with the list below.
Early Pregnancy Symptoms
- Missed period: Some women have very regular menstrual cycles and notice they are late right away. Being a few days late may seem normal for others with more irregular periods. Our pregnancy tests are accurate 20-24 days after a woman’s first day of her last period. By the time you have missed your period, the test is usually within the accurate time frame.
- Nausea: Women experience nausea in pregnancy at varying intensities, and some don’t experience it all. Nausea/vomiting in pregnancy is sometimes referred to as “morning sickness.” Nausea can occur at any time throughout the day or night.
- Swollen/tender breasts: Your body releases hormones that can cause breasts to feel sore, swollen, tight, or even itchy. Your breasts will go through many changes throughout pregnancy to prepare for nourishing your little one after birth.
- Fatigue: It is common for women in their first trimester to feel very tired, sometimes for no reason. This generally improves by the second trimester.
- Frequent urination: You may feel the need to urinate often as your growing uterus can press against your bladder.
- Increased appetite: You may notice you feel more hungry than usual. In addition, pregnant women often times experience intense food aversions or cravings.
- Mood changes: You may notice mood swings as changing levels of hormones can impact your ability to regulate emotions.
- Light spotting/implantation bleeding: Light spotting (noticing a pink-tinge when you wipe) that occurs about 3-4 weeks after a woman’s first day of her last period can be a sign of implantation bleeding, which is considered to be normal. Contact your doctor with any concerns surrounding heavier vaginal bleeding.
- Headaches: Headaches are commonly reported by women during pregnancy. While mild headaches early in pregnancy are generally considered to be normal, any headaches accompanied with blurred vision, dizziness, or spots in your eyes should be reported to your doctor.
- Constipation/bloating: Changing levels of hormones can slow down the passage of food through a pregnant woman’s digestive tract. Drinking water, walking, and a high-fiber diet can help promote a healthy gut.
How Do I Know For Sure?
We can help if you are questioning if you may be pregnant!
London, M. L., Ladewig, P. W., Davidson, M. R., Ball, J. W., McGillis, R. C., & Cowen, K. J. (2017). Maternal & Child Nursing Care (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.Learn More
Many women will say that the second trimester is their favorite trimester of their pregnancy journey! This is due to it being the most comfortable trimester out of all three. The second trimester takes you from week 14 through week 27. Overall, your pregnancy is well established, your nausea might have gone away, and you might be sleeping better as well.
One fun fact about the second trimester is that your baby begins to hear during the second trimester. Therefore, your baby might start to recognize your voice and also respond to sounds outside the womb!
Here are a few changes you might notice in your body during the second trimester:
- Increased hunger and energy overall
- Feeling your baby move inside you more (maybe feeling like butterflies or gas bubbles)
- Your stomach will start showing you are pregnant to others
- You may need maternity clothes or larger bras to accommodate the body changes
- You may have some nasal congestion due to increased blood flow to your mucous membranes
- Potentially experience mild swelling in your ankles and feet
- You may experience sensitive gums and maybe bleeding- be sure to see your dentist if you experience any bright red or bleeding gums
During the second trimester, your baby will grow from the size of a peach to the size of a cantaloupe. Your baby’s senses will start developing and your baby will move around a lot!
Here is what is happening to the baby during the second trimester:
- The baby’s skin is covered in lanugo (soft hair that will eventually go away)
- The baby will start to gain weight quickly
- The baby’s genitals normally can be seen around week 16
- The baby becomes much more active and kicks more strongly
- The baby might swallow and suck it’s thumb
- The baby’s senses are developing and the baby might be able to hear
- The baby has times to be awake and also times to sleep
- The baby can open it’s eyes
- The baby might be able to recognize familiar voices like mom’s or dad’s
Lastly, there are a few tests that are done in the second trimester that you should expect from your doctor. They are as follows:
- Fetal Anatomy Survey– Is an ultrasound that is performed sometime between 18 and 20 weeks. This ultrasound looks at fetal size and anatomy including the baby’s organs. It can screen for potential concerns like the location of the placenta or the amount on amniotic fluid your baby has. At this ultrasound, the gender of your baby might be able to be seen! Therefore, you can let the ultrasound technician know if you would like to see the gender or have it be a surprise for delivery!
- Glucose Tolerance Test– This test will let the mother know if she has gestational diabetes with the pregnancy. The test is typically done between 24 and 28 weeks, but can be done earlier if there are risk factors for gestational diabetes. Gestational diabetes can cause problems for the mother and baby during pregnancy and after birth, so it is important to be screened. During the test, mom is asked to drink a concentrated sugar solution. After an hour, mom’s blood is drawn and blood sugar levels are tested. If the results are abnormal, typically a 3 hour glucose tolerance test is performed.
Enjoy every minute of the second trimester and your growing baby, you have so much to look forward to! Also consider joining us for one of our prenatal or birth classes.
Source: Understanding Pregnancy: A Comprehensive Guide. (2012). InJoy Productions, Inc.Learn More